February 27, 2020 / 2:01 PM / a month ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam FX extend slide amid coronavirus gloom, Brazil's real at new lows

    By Susan Mathew
    Feb 27 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies extended losses
on Thursday as a jump in new coronavirus cases outside China
increased worries about an imminent pandemic that could weigh
heavily on global growth.
    Governments ramped up measures to battle the coronavirus as
the number of new infections outside China for the first time
surpassed new cases in the country, where the outbreak began.
The coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed
nearly 2,800.           
    Brazil confirmed Latin America's first infection on
Wednesday, which saw its stocks bleed 7% and its
currency hit all-time lows when markets reopened after a
extended weekend. 
    On Thursday, Brazil's real currency touched fresh
lows of 4.4793 to the dollar, while the Bovespa index lost 1.6%
and touched its lowest since October last year.
    Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its 2020 Brazilian
economic growth outlook to 1.9%, the first major bank to go
below the 2% threshold.
    "Investors seem to be reluctant to buy the dip in equities
just yet," said Piotr Matys, senior emerging markets FX
strategist at Rabobank.
    "The rapidly growing realization that the coronavirus may
have serious negative consequences for the global economy that
could last well beyond first quarter, changed market mentality."
    Losses on the Bovespa were led by an 7% plunge in beverage
maker Ambev SA after it said inflation in Argentina
and increased commodity prices kept a lid on margins in the
fourth quarter. 
    Mexico's peso slumped to its lowest in three months,
down 0.6% at 19.38 to the dollar. The peso is on track for its
sixth straight session of losses, which would be its longest
losing streak since September 2016. If losses hold, it will have
lost about 4% over the six sessions.
    Mexico's central bank on Wednesday cut its 2020 economic
growth forecast and hiked its inflation view, saying projections
were shrouded in uncertainty because it was unclear how the
spread of the coronavirus would dent global growth.
    Much remains unknown about the virus, which originated late
last year, apparently in a market selling wildlife in the city
of Wuhan in China. As the virus spread, increasing worries have
wiped about $3.6 trillion dollars from the MSCI's world index
.
    Falling Copper and oil prices hurt the Chilean and
the Colombian pesos respectively, with the oil exporter's
currency touching a three-month low against the dollar. 
    Chilean stocks slid to a three-year low, down
1.6%. 
        
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1330 GMT:
   Stock indexes            Latest    Daily %
                                      change
 MSCI Emerging Markets       1036.69    -0.63
                                      
 MSCI LatAm                  2463.17    -2.66
                                      
 Brazil Bovespa            104000.25    -1.63
                                      
 Mexico IPC                        -        -
                                      
 Chile IPSA                  4230.90    -1.55
                                      
 Argentina MerVal                  -        -
                                      
 Colombia COLCAP                   -        -
                                      
                                             
       Currencies           Latest    Daily %
                                      change
 Brazil real                  4.4714    -0.63
                                      
 Mexico peso                 19.3833    -0.52
                                      
 Chile peso                    816.3    -0.76
                                      
 Colombia peso               3486.19    -0.89
 Peru sol                     3.4198    -0.32
                                      
 Argentina peso              62.1200    -0.05
 (interbank)                          
                                      
 
 (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru;)
  
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